Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

November 9, 2010

Frequently Scrutinized Syrian Cartoonist Ali Farzat Opens A Gallery In Damascus


There's a great line near the end of this CBS News piece on the opening of a new Damascus gallery owned by cartoonist Ali Farzat, where Farzat himself flat-out admits that he has no idea why he's been allowed to do this. Such is the life of a cartoonist and artist where those things aren't always valued. Farzat has long been the target of repressive forces within his own country and across the Middle East for his striking, powerful cartoons satirizing heartbreakingly common and wholly insidious abuses of power. As the article notes, his highest-profile tussle with his own government came when during a loosening-up period in the early 2000s he was allowed to found a satirical newspaper called Addomari, which was then shut down two years later for reasons almost certainly relating to its content despite the claims of officials that the publication circumvented legal stricture.

The Ali Farzat Gallery is not only decorated with art that was criticized when released via print media, Farzat will be selling items for Syrian homes with his work on them, leading to what Google tells me is the only time the phrase "satirical home furnishings" has ever appeared on the Internet. "I am seeking to turn our homes into carriers of ideas and content," Farzat told CBS News, in what has to be the most ambitious statement regarding merchandising in the history of cartooning.

A new Syrian Minister of Culture visited the gallery and praised Ferzat. If you have a second, poke around the article and Farzat's web site for photos of the place and some stronger examples of his cartoons. One can't help but hope this endeavor goes as well as possible for him.
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink

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